Interview with Abdellatif Maâzouz, President, Région Casa Settat, Kingdom of Morocco

Interview with Abdellatif Maâzouz, President, Région Casa Settat, Kingdom of Morocco


What are the key strengths of the Casablanca-Settat region and its role and contribution within the national context? How does it stand out compared to other industry hubs in Morocco and neighboring countries?

The Casablanca-Settat region, with its 7.5 million inhabitants, contributes 32% of the national GDP, over 50% of national industrial production and nearly as much to exports. Its healthcare, education, higher education and research systems, combined with world-class infrastructure and a leading financial center, inspire leaders, elected officials, economic operators and the entire population to continue strengthening its leadership at both national and continental levels.

Situated on the Atlantic coast, the region offers easy access to both European and African markets. It hosts the headquarters of hundreds national and multinational companies so it is a major employment hub, providing jobs across various sectors, including finance, industry, commerce and services. It also leads in several key industries such as automotive, aerospace, pharmacy, agribusiness, electronics and textiles, which are critical to Morocco’s export economy. The region boasts a robust health infrastructure that includes several major hospitals, specialized clinics and numerous private healthcare facilities.Casablanca stands out as a financial hub not only within Morocco but also in the African continent. The Casablanca Finance City is recognized as the leading financial center in Africa, attracting international banks, insurance companies and investment firms, which sets it apart from other regions in Morocco and neighboring countries.

The Casablanca-Settat region is served by Mohammed V International Airport, the busiest airport in Morocco, offering extensive domestic and international flights. The region also features the Port of Casablanca, one of the largest artificial ports in the world, handling significant cargo and passenger traffic. Additionally, the nearby ports of Mohammedia and El Jadida play crucial roles, with Mohammedia serving as a key hub for oil and gas shipments and El Jadida supporting local fishing and commercial activities.

Unlike other regions that might be reliant on specific industries, Casablanca-Settat has a diversified industrial base, which mitigates risks and promotes economic stability. This diversification spans across automotive, aerospace, electronics, pharmaceuticals and more, giving it a robust and resilient economic structure.


What are the key projects under the region’s Plan de Developpement Regional 2022-2027?

Based on the royal strategic orientations and taking into consideration the main choices made by the New Development Model and the governmental program, the Casablanca-Settat Regional Council has adopted and launched its regional development program for 2022-2027 with the objectives of accelerating the improvement of living conditions for the populations and investment in the region, with five focus areas: removing barriers to the development of SMEs and entrepreneurship, supporting the economic empowerment of women, accelerating digital transition and inclusion in all territories, creating economic and social integration opportunities for youth and developing and supporting the emergence of a middle class in the rural areas of the Region

To achieve these objectives, the Casablanca-Settat Regional Council and its institutional partners have deployed significant resources aimed at the following five main axes: improving the economic and social attractiveness of the local life, strengthening the role of the Casablanca-Settat Region as the engine of the national economy, developing accessible and sustainable regional mobility, ensuring water resources and environmental adaptation and resilience and developing and promoting the “Casablanca international hub.”

Among our strategic projects, we are currently mobilizing 400 hectares of industrial land to accommodate new economic activity zones, both industrial and small to medium-sized, to develop the industrial ecosystem and promote job creation. Additionally, the development of the Casablanca Exhibition and Conference Center project, spanning 208 hectares, aims to create a diverse service offering, comprising the Center, outlets and hotel accommodations, to attract economic operators and investors for hosting national and international events. Also the establishment of a regional investment fund dedicated to supporting startups and enterprises is designed to nurture their growth and facilitate their expansion across the continent. Public stakeholders, alongside the region, actively contribute to the financing of these projects. Moreover, select initiatives will receive funding from the private sector through calls for expressions of interest and/or Public-Private Partnership


How significant is Casablanca-Settat as a key attraction for tourism in Morocco and what investments are required to meet national tourism targets?

The tourism sector in Casablanca-Settat plays a major role for tourism in Morocco. We are the third national tourist destination, tourism to this region contributes 7% of the national GDP and we have 10% of the national lodging capacity. Strategic investments are essential to meet our national tourism objectives, which include attracting 17.5 million tourists by 2026 and 26 million by 2030; generating 200,000 sustainable jobs, including 80,000 direct jobs by 2026 and achieving MAD 120 billion ($12 billion) in tourism receipts from non-residents by 2026.

At the regional level, we are restoring the region’s heritage sites to appeal to both local and international tourists. These initiatives are geared towards diversifying and enriching the tourism landscape in our region. The region has established in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Communication a dedicated program for the rehabilitation and preservation of heritage sites, aimed at attracting more local and international tourists. Moreover, the Region has also integrated into its regional development program, a regional program for the development of rural tourism in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, Handicrafts, Social and Solidarity Economy, aimed at enhancing touristic circuits and their signage in rural areas.

Looking forward, Morocco’s co-hosting of the 2030 World Cup with Spain and Portugal represents a significant opportunity to draw a surge of tourists to our country and region. With all stakeholders in our country, we are actively making significant investments and exerting efforts to ensure that we are thoroughly prepared to seize this opportunity.


What is your assessment of the level of support received by SMEs and entrepreneurs in Casablanca-Settat, especially in R&D and innovation and what is the current infrastructure for education and training?

The Casablanca-Settat region has six public and private universities, as well as 20 higher education institutions in engineering and management. There is also la Cité des Métiers et des Compétences located in Nouaceur, which offers a variety of qualifying training programs to enhance the skills of young people. Additionally, there are specialized training institutes focusing on promising professions, such as the Institute of Aeronautical Trades in Casablanca, an excellent training center that meets the needs of the aeronautical industry.

The Casablanca-Settat Region leads in adopting new technologies and fostering innovation. Initiatives such as the Africa Innovation Lab, launched by the Casablanca-Settat Regional Council in partnership with Casablanca Finance City, supports the fintech ecosystem and emerging startups in various fields of innovation. Additionally, the Technopark Casablanca and several technology incubators provide robust support for startups and technological advancements, further enhancing the region’s competitive edge.

The Region is also investing in various programs aimed at supporting and incubating startups, including providing funding. We have also contributed to the establishment of new innovation and R&D centers and engineering training schools to enhance the quality of education, such as the center of future intelligent digital technology located in Mohammedia, in partnership with the foundation for research, development and innovation in science and engineering.

Additionally, in our strategic pipeline, we are developing the Africa Finance Institute to provide international certified training for young people in the financed field. The region is investing in the education sector to strategically enhance children’s enrollment rates, improve access to schools for rural populations, reduce the school dropout rate and contribute to the national effort to economically empower women


How is the level of digitization in the public sector and what new opportunities in digital technology for industrial development are there in the region?

As part of our Regional Development Program, we have strategically prioritized accelerating digital transition and Inclusion in all territories. This strategic pillar includes programs aimed at enhancing the end-to-end public service experience for both people and businesses through comprehensive digital transformation initiatives. Our approach involves digitizing various aspects of public services across municipalities to ensure accessibility, efficiency and convenience for all stakeholders.

We are committed to prioritizing interoperability among public service platforms, facilitating communication and data exchange between different agencies and departments. By focusing on accelerating digital transition and promoting inclusion throughout our region, we aim to drive sustainable development, foster innovation and create equitable opportunities for all.
Among the flagship projects we are proud to support is The Tech Campus, situated in the heart of the Casablanca-Settat region. This is Africa’s largest hub for entrepreneurship, digital careers and startups. With innovative architecture, renewable energy and carbon footprint of zero, it prioritizes social impact through youth reintegration and ICT job creation. The Tech Campus champions gender equality with 50% female representation and embraces inclusivity by supporting people with disabilities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.


How is Casablanca-Settat lowering carbon emissions and what is the region’s potential as a green energy hub for Africa and Europe?

Casablanca-Settat’s potential as a green energy hub for Africa and Europe is substantial, given its strategic geographical location and the increasing global focus on transitioning to clean energy sources. The region has considerable assets, including significant potential in hydroelectricity with 235 km of coastline and 27 dams; significant potential in wind and solar sectors – the availability of sites with good wind and sunlight conditions classified in “zone 3” for hosting solar power projects (Ministerial Order of the Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development No. 2138.22 dated 29/07/2022); considerable potential in biomass, including the waste landfill and valorization center of Greater Casablanca and waste valorization program in Settat, El Jadida and Berrechid; support Green Business Incubators, aiming at fostering entrepreneurship in the field of renewable energies and a future seawater desalination plant of Greater Casablanca with a capacity of 200 to 300 million cubic meters per year.


What are the reasons behind Casablanca being the top attractor of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Morocco and what current efforts are underway to strengthen ties with US players and investors?

Casablanca’s status as the top attractor of FDI in Morocco can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, its strategic location as the country’s economic capital and largest city makes it a natural choice for investors seeking opportunities in Morocco. Additionally, Casablanca boasts a well-developed infrastructure, including modern transportation networks and a thriving business district, which further enhances its appeal to investors. The investment climate in Casablanca is favorable due to a range of factors. These include a stable political environment, a relatively open economy and a supportive regulatory framework for foreign investment. The government has implemented various reforms to streamline business procedures and attract foreign capital, contributing to a business-friendly environment at both national and regional levels.

Major stakeholders and public entities play a crucial role in marketing Casablanca as a capital of investment. These include government agencies such as  the Moroccan Agency for the Development of Investments and Exports and the Casablanca Finance City Authority, as well as industry associations and business chambers. These entities work to promote the city’s strengths and investment opportunities through targeted marketing campaigns, investment forums and networking events.

As part of our international cooperation, we are undertaking actions to develop and strengthen ties with US stakeholders and investors through developing partnerships with other major states and counties in the US, recognizing the importance of the US market as a key source of investment and technology.

This includes initiatives such as trade missions, business delegations and bilateral agreements aimed at facilitating investment and trade between both countries. Strengthening these ties not only attracts investment from US companies but also opens up new opportunities for collaboration and technology transfer.

For the US and other foreign investors, the Casablanca-Settat Region offers a range of opportunities across various sectors. These include infrastructure development, renewable energy, information technology, finance and manufacturing. Additionally, our region serves as a gateway to the wider African market, providing access to a growing consumer base and business opportunities.